Tag Archives: Highway

Streaming Video News: August 2, 2018

I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Netflix with twenty-two new additions to the catalog! About half of these titles were on Netflix years ago, but the rest — films like Highway, Mohenjo Daro, and PK — are available on the service for the first time. I’m excited that three more of director Vishal Bhardwaj’s movies have joined the catalog. Here are all the titles added today:

In other Netflix news, the streaming service announced that it’s begun work on a Baahubali prequel series based on Anand Neelakantan’s book The Rise of Sivagami. Woo hoo!

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Best Bollywood Movies of 2014

2014 delivered a bunch of well-crafted films aimed at a savvy audience. Here are my ten best of the year. (Click on the title of each movie to read my original review.)

Films with budgets large and small took aim at social issues affecting ordinary citizens.  Siddharth powerfully explores poverty through the experience of a man searching for his missing child. The divisive intersection of politics and religion is skewered both by indies — Filmistaan and Dekh Tamasha Dekh — and the year’s biggest hit, PK.

Other films put creative spins on existing formulas. Highway turns a typical damsel-in-distress scenario into a young woman’s journey of self-discovery. Dedh Ishqiya features a budding romance between a middle-aged couple, played by Madhuri Dixit-Nene and Naseeruddin Shah. I thought I’d seen enough gangster movies for a lifetime until Kill Dil revitalized the genre in stylish fashion.

Ankhon Dekhi challenges the notion that a movie has to be “about” a specific theme, instead presenting itself as a movie to simply experience.

My sentimental favorite film of 2014 is Queen. Watching Kangana Ranuat as charming small-town girl Rani gallivanting about Europe on her solo honeymoon is a joyous experience. It’s a movie I look forward to revisiting.

Yet one movie stood out from the rest because of its riveting story and immaculate direction. The best Hindi movie of 2014 is Haider.

I’m a huge fan of director Vishal Bhardwaj, and even with high expectations going in, I was still blown away by Haider. It’s gorgeous, thanks both to the natural beauty of Kashmir and Bhardwaj’s use of a bold color palette against a snowy backdrop. Kudos to cinematographer Pankaj Kumar as well.

Bhardwaj — who also wrote the film’s music — maximizes the potential for song as a narrative device in a sequence in which Haider (a modern Hamlet, played by Shahid Kapoor) publicly implicates his uncle in his father’s disappearance. The scene is much more effective as a musical performance than it would have been as a speech.

Bhardwaj also deserves credit for placing his version of Hamlet in such a politically and emotionally charged environment. Notes at the end of the movie highlight how ongoing tension between India and Pakistan have cut off a beautiful place like Kashmir from the rest of the world, to the detriment of regular people simply trying to exist. Placing a 400-year-old story within the context of a modern conflict emphasizes that quelling the dangerous temptations that come with political ambition is a problem humans haven’t yet solved. Haider is a magnificent piece of visual storytelling.

Best Bollywood Movies of 2014

    1. Haider — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    2. Queen — Buy/rent at Amazon
    3. Siddharth — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    4. Ankhon Dekhi — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    5. Highway — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    6. Dedh Ishqiya — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    7. PK — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    8. Dekh Tamasha Dekh — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    9. Kill Dil — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes
    10. Filmistaan — Buy/rent at Amazon or iTunes

Previous Best Movies Lists

Bollywood Box Office: July 11-13

Alia Bhatt appears to be box office gold in North America. Over the weekend of July 11-13, 2014, her new film — Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania — posted the seventh highest opening weekend returns of the year so far in the U.S. and Canada.

From 100 theaters, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania earned $376,962 ($3,770 average). In February, Bhatt’s Highway earned $325,522 from 93 theaters ($3,500 average) in its first weekend. Her next film — April’s 2 States — still has the best opening weekend for any Hindi film in North America this year: $1,026,353 from 131 theaters ($7,835 average).

Whether it’s Bhatt’s appeal specifically or her knack for choosing the right projects, filmmakers should pay attention to her. There aren’t many actors who can guarantee first-weekend earnings in excess of $300,000 in the U.S. and Canada, but Bhatt has done it three times this year.

Bobby Jasoos fared poorly in its second week in theaters, with business dropping off almost 85% from last weekend. The Vidya Balan detective flick earned $22,827 from 41 theaters ($557 average), bringing its total earnings to $202,746.

Ek Villain, on the other hand, held up well in its third week. From 29 theaters, it earned $22,730 ($784 average), bringing its total to $747,751.

The Lunchbox soldiered on into its twentieth week, adding $3,015 from seven theaters. Its total stands at $4,010,655.

 Source: Rentrak, via Bollywood Hungama

Bollywood Box Office: April 4-6

Few young actors’ careers have been watched as closely as those of the breakout stars of 2012’s Student of the Year: Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra, and Varun Dhawan. The sophomore efforts of all three released theatrically in the last two months, the most recent being Dhawan’s Main Tera Hero on April 4, 2014. Here’s how their North American box office returns compare to one another, as well as to the film that launched three careers.

Student of the Year — directed by Karan Johar — released in 106 theaters in the U.S. and Canada on October 19, 2012. It earned $326,508 in its first weekend ($3,080 average), going on to earn a total of $670,086.

Malhotra was the first of the three stars to release his follow-up effort. Hasee Toh Phasee opened on February 7, 2014, earning $334,397 from eighty-six theaters ($3,895 average) in its first weekend. That this was the best opening weekend of the three new films — better even than the first weekend of SOTY — shouldn’t be a surprise. A romantic comedy co-produced by Johar, co-starring Parineeti Chopra, and released a week before Valentine’s Day is a safe bet.

Bhatt’s film, Highway — which opened two weeks later — was a more ambitious venture, despite having an A-List director like Imtiaz Ali at the helm. Bhatt shouldered most of the load for the movie — a largely improvised road flick about a kidnapped woman — and her efforts paid off. Highway earned $325,522 from ninety-three theaters ($3,500 average) in its opening weekend.

Dhawan’s Main Tera Hero didn’t fare as well in its opening weekend as his former co-stars’ films. It earned $161,846 from seventy theaters. Its $2,312 average is significantly less than those of the other two films released this year and SOTY.

In his defense, Dhawan’s film presented the biggest challenge. Action-comedies aren’t guaranteed hits in North America, and his co-stars — Ileana D’Cruz and Nargis Fakhri — have good looks but not much name recognition here. Matching the final tallies of either Hasee Toh Phasee ($642,632) or Highway ($529,449) seems unlikely.

The best-performing Hindi film in U.S. and Canadian theaters during the weekend of April 4-6, 2014, was The Lunchbox. Now showing in 100 theaters, it earned $307,076, bringing its total earnings to $1,266,478.

For one week, Queen reigns as 2014’s overall highest-earning Hindi film in North America (it will lose this crown to The Lunchbox next weekend). In its fifth week in theaters, it earned $92,933 from forty-nine screens ($1,897 average), bringing its total to $1,327,223.

Lingering in one last American theater, Bewakoofiyaan earned $20. Its total stands at $106,800.

Note: All earnings figures except those of Student of the Year are courtesy of Bollywood Hungama.

Bollywood Box Office: March 28-30

Queen‘s box office run continues to amaze. The weekend of March 28-30, 2014, marked Queen‘s fourth weekend in North American theaters, during which it showed in more theaters and earned more money than it did in its first weekend (according to Bollywood Hungama).

To put this in perspective, compare Queen‘s North American box office performance to that of Jai Ho, currently the highest earning Hindi film released in the U.S. and Canada in 2014. Jai Ho opened in 183 theaters on January 24, earning $817,744. Its earnings fell by almost 80% in its second weekend. In its fourth and final weekend, it earned $2,396 from just three theaters.

Queen started out more slowly, earning $161,998 from thirty-nine theaters. Its earnings nearly doubled in its second week and held steady in week three. It expanded into its largest number of theaters in week four (sixty-four), whence it earned $212,550.

The way Queen has added just a few theaters per week mirrors the gradual roll-out of The Lunchbox in North America. The difference is that roll-out of The Lunchbox was planned, whereas Queen‘s growth has been due to audience demand.

With only Main Tera Hero likely to release in North America this upcoming weekend, Queen should retain much of its current theatrical footprint for a fifth weekend. With a total haul of $1,179,491 currently, that footprint should allow Queen to supplant Jai Ho ($1,256,275) as the highest earning Hindi film of 2014, so far.

Now showing in Canada as well as the U.S., The Lunchbox earned $277,853 from sixty-nine theaters ($4,027 average) in its fifth week of release. It’s total earnings stand at $848,990.

Dishkiyaoon made barely a peep in its opening weekend in theaters. It opened in just eleven theaters in the U.S. and Canada and earned $7,341 ($667 average). That’s still better than the first weekend returns of Gang of Ghosts, Ya Rab, and Karle Pyaar Karle, despite opening in fewer theaters than any of those films.

Other Hindi movies still in North American theaters include:

  • Total Siyapaa: Week 4; $1,207 from four screens, $125,743 total
  • Bewakoofiyaan: Week 3; $477 from two screens; $106,710 total
  • Gulaab Gang: Week 4; $426 from one screen; $98,475 total
  • Highway: Week 6; $160 from one screen; $529,449 total
  • Gang of Ghosts: Week 2; $72 from two screens; $5,978 total
  • Shaadi Ke Side Effects: Week 5; $48 from two screens; $947,787 total

Note: Figures courtesy of Bollywood Hungama

Box Office: March 14-16

Something fascinating happened at the North American box office during the weekend of March 14-16, 2014. A movie in its second weekend not only won the weekend over the lone new Hindi release, but also nearly doubled its own first weekend earnings.

Following an unexpectedly strong box office performance last weekend, driven by positive word of mouth, twelve more theaters in the U.S. and Canada added the charming coming-of-age film Queen to their rosters. With a total of fifty-one theaters in North America now showing Queen, it earned $299,592, nearly double the $161,998 it earned last weekend, according to Bollywood Hungama. Its $5874 per-screen average put it ahead of all of the movies in the general U.S. top twenty besides The Grand Budapest Hotel and Veronica Mars.

Queen‘s growing success put a major dent in the returns for the weekend’s only new release, Bewakoofiyaan. The romantic comedy took in just $67,738 from sixty-six screens for an appalling average of $1,026.

Bewakoofiyaan‘s underperformance is almost as surprising as Queen‘s overperformance. The rom-com had the backing of a major studio (Yash Raj Films), featured two rising stars in Ayushmann Khurrana and Sonam Kapoor, and the trailer was heavily promoted in theaters. On top of that, it’s an entertaining and very accessible movie.

Bollywood Hungama attributes the film’s poor performance in India to low overall theater attendance before the start of Holi and student exams. Given that neither of those reasons apply to the same degree in North America, why did Bewakoofiyaan fail here?

  • Too Many Romantic Comedies
    There have been a glut of romantic comedies released recently: Hasee Toh Phasee on February 7, Shaadi Ke Side Effects on February 28, and Total Siyapaa on March 7. By the time Bewakoofiyaan hit theaters on March 14, I know I was much more in the mood to see some dudes fight than to watch another couple fumble their way to the altar.
  • Misleading Title
    Total Siyapaa is guilty of this, too. Which one of these titles would you assume belongs to a romantic comedy: Stupidities, Total Chaos, or The Side Effects of Marriage? The target audience for a rom-com may not be interested in stupidity or chaos. Also, with American multiplexes presently awash in action flicks, cartoons, and months-old Oscar nominees, Bewakoofiyaan could’ve drawn in mainstream moviegoers desperate for something new if it had an English title (like Queen).
  • Misleading Trailer
    The marketing for Bewakoofiyaan is as guilty of misrepresentation as the title. The trailer promises wackiness and stupidity that (thankfully) aren’t present in the movie. Why promote a film about the effects of the global recession on a romance between executives to the same crowd that would be happy to watch Sanjay Dutt and Ajay Devgn slap each other for two hours?

As for the rest of this weekend’s box office returns, The Lunchbox continued its strong performance. Now in eighteen theaters, it earned $77,044 ($4,280 average), bringing its U.S. total to $290,526.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects earned $32,005 from thirty-two theaters ($1,000 average) in its third weekend. Its total North American earnings stand at $933,225.

The other films in their second weekend in the theaters fared far worse than Queen. Total Siyapaa earned $13,525 from twenty-one theaters ($644 average), while Gulaab Gang earned $11,048 from nineteen theaters ($581 average). Their total earnings — $116,241 and $92,203, respectively — are nothing to brag about.

Holding out in one remaining theater, Highway earned $1,511 to bring its four-week total earnings to $528,721.

Sources:

Box Office: March 7-9

A glut of new releases led to some strange North American box office results for the weekend of March 7-9, 2014.

This past weekend saw the release of four new Hindi films — Queen, Gulaab Gang, Total Siyapaa, and Ya Rab (in its U.S. debut) — to compete against a big budget romcom (Shaadi Ki Side Effects), a hyped indie film (The Lunchbox), and a lingering critical hit (Highway). All four of the new films released in relatively few theaters, limiting the potential audience.

According to Bollywood Hungama, the weekend’s winner in terms of total gross was Shaadi Ki Side Effects in its second release week. Much of that success stems from showing in ninety theaters, whereas its closest competitor — Total Siyapaa — commanded only fifty screens. SKSE earned $165,079 ($1,834 average), bringing its total North American collections to $855,836.

In terms of per screen average, The Lunchbox won the weekend. Expanding into thirteen theaters nationally, The Lunchbox earned $114,779 for an average of $8,829 per screen. Its two-week U.S. total stands at $174,711.

Queen fared the best of the weekend’s new releases. It earned $161,998 from thirty-nine theaters. Its per screen average of $4,154 is the fourth highest for a Hindi film this year, and it bested the average of all but the three highest earners in the overall U.S. top ten (according to Box Office Mojo).

The second place finisher among the new releases earned less than half of Queen‘s total, despite debuting on more screens. Total Siyapaa earned $77,469 from fifty screens for an average of $1,549.

Despite having arguably the most local hype of any of the new flicks, Gulaab Gang earned just $60,718 from 46 screens, a per screen average of $1,320.

The big loser of the weekend was Ya Rab, which dropped into fifteen U.S. theaters with no fanfare weeks after its Indian theatrical release. It managed to underperform even Karle Pyaar Karle, taking in $1,404 total for an average of just $94. Jeepers.

In its third week in theaters, Highway earned $10,904 from seven screens. Its per screen average of $1,558 was better than those of Total Siyapaa, Gulaab Gang, and Ya Rab in their debut weekends. Highway‘s total North American earnings stand at $525,033.

Box Office: February 28 – March 2

Shaadi Ke Side Effects got off to a great start in its debut weekend in North American theaters, February 28 – March 2, 2014. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise for an accessible, family-friendly romantic comedy featuring two supremely talented actors. SKSE took in $578,346 from 108 theaters (according to Bollywood Hungama). Its per screen average of $5355 is the second highest first-weekend return of any Hindi film to open in the United States and Canada in 2014.

The Hindi film with this year’s highest U.S. per screen average also released this weekend. The Lunchbox debuted in just three American theaters on February 28 but earned $40,634: a per screen average of $13,545! According to Box Office Mojo — whose earnings totals differ slightly from those supplied by Bollywood Hungama — The Lunchbox had the best per screen average of any movie playing in the U.S. over the weekend.

The Lunchbox opens in eleven additional theaters on March 7 and in many more theaters across the U.S. in the coming weeks. The stellar box office returns of The Lunchbox — which is being distributed in America by Sony Pictures Classic — goes to show just how well an Indian movie can perform in the U.S. with the benefit of some marketing to the masses. If only sophisticated films like Dedh Ishqiya and Highway had received such support.

Speaking of Highway, business for the road-trip drama fell significantly in its second weekend. It earned $94,030, bringing its North American total to $489,860. With the potential for three new Hindi movies to hit theaters on March 7, I don’t expect Highway to stick around for a third weekend.

Also likely to make way on Friday are Gunday (which has earned $887,675 in its three weeks in North American theaters) and Hasee Toh Phasee ($642,632 in four weeks).

Opening February 28: Shaadi Ke Side Effects

The romantic comedy Shaadi Ke Side Effects (“The Side Effects of Marriage“) opens in Chicago area theaters on February 28, 2014. The film is a sequel to 2006’s Pyaar Ke Side Effects, with Vidya Balan and Farhan Akhtar taking over the lead roles of Trisha and Sid from original stars Mallika Sherawat and Rahul Bose.

Shaadi Ke Side Effects opens on Friday at the AMC River East 21 in Chicago, Regal Gardens Stadium 1-6 in Skokie, Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington, AMC Loews Woodridge 18 in Woodridge, and Regal Cantera Stadium 17 in Warrenville. It has a listed runtime of 2 hrs. 20 min.

Chicago fans long-awaiting the U.S. release of The Lunchbox will have to wait a little longer. It also releases in the U.S. on Friday, but only in New York and L.A. The Lunchbox opens in the Chicago area on March 7. Click here for the full list of where The Lunchbox will open in the U.S over the course of the next two months.

After posting solid first-weekend earnings, the wonderful drama Highway carries over for a second week at all of the above theaters except for the Woodridge 18. The South Barrington 30 gives a third weekend to Gunday and a fourth weekend to Hasee Toh Phasee.

Other Indian movies playing at the Golf Glen 5 this weekend include 1983 (Malayalam), Bheemavaram Bullodu (Telugu), Jaatishwar (Bengali, with English subtitles), and Thegidi (Tamil).

Box Office: February 21-23

The terrific drama Highway opened in 97 North American theaters on February 21, 2014, earning $326,654 in its first weekend (according to Box Office Mojo). Its per screen average of $3,368 bested all but three films in the top twenty. While $326,654 is a respectable return, it’s less than the first-week earnings of director Imtiaz Ali’s past projects.

In the summer of 2009, Love Aaj Kal produced Ali’s best-ever box office results in North America. Love Aaj Kal earned $1,241,762 from 102 theaters in its opening weekend ($12,174 average), ultimately raking in $2,430,083.

Ali’s unconventional romantic drama Rockstar performed well when it debuted in the fall of 2011, earning $612,235 from 112 theaters ($5,466 average) in its opening weekend. Rockstar went on to gross a total of $986,697.

Another summer romantic comedy scored for Ali in 2012, when Cocktail — a movie Ali wrote, but did not direct — earned $647,956 from 96 North American theaters in its first weekend ($6,750 average).

Over the course of their four- or five-week theatrical runs in North America, the total earnings for Ali’s past movies were nearly double what they earned in their opening weekend in theaters. Highway could fall short of doubling its initial take for a couple of reasons.

First, the release of Shaadi Ke Side Effects — a more conventional rom-com starring Vidya Balan and Farhan Akhtar — on February 28 could put a serious dent in Highway‘s second-weekend earnings. None of Ali’s other projects faced any new competition in their second weekend.

Second, Highway is likely to lose a significant number of screens on March 7 when three relatively high-profile movies release on the same day: Gulaab Gang, Total Siyapaa, and Queen.

For Highway to ultimately earn around $600,000 in North America, it’s going to need positive word of mouth to drive people to the theater this week and through next weekend. Given that I’ve heard from a couple of people who’ve already watched it twice in the theater, a $600,000 total is possible.

In its second weekend in U.S. and Canadian theaters, Gunday earned $122,188 from 118 screens ($1,035 average), bringing its total to $842,637 (according to Bollywood Hungama).

That may sound impressive, but consider that Hasee Toh Phasee posted average third week earnings of $1306 per screen ($36,587 from 28 screens) in the same weekend. While Hasee Toh Phasee‘s overall total is lower — $634,099 so far — it remains a better investment for theaters than Gunday.